John Harris

Stoker 2nd Class John Harris of Belfast died on 22nd May 1941 when the Luftwaffe bombed the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Gloucester during the Battle of Crete.

Stoker 2nd Class

John Harris

D/KX 118101

Stoker 2nd Class John Harris died as a result of the sinking of HMS Gloucester when the Cruiser came under attack from the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean.

Stoker 2nd Class John Harris (D/KX 118101) served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was the son of Evelyn Harris of Belfast.

He died on 22nd May 1941 aged 32 on HMS Gloucester. The British Cruiser was part of the Mediterranean Fleet when it went down after an attack from Luftwaffe JU-87s. The German bombers were part of Operation Merkur, an airborne assault on Crete.

HMS Gloucester in Plymouth, 1939

Imperial War Museum Photo: (FL 3923) (Part of the Ministry of Defence Foxhill Collection of Ship Photographs). Royal Navy Cruiser HMS Gloucester in Plymouth Sound, Devon in 1939. Copyright Royal Navy Official Photographer.

HMS Greyhound was stricken from an earlier Luftwaffe attack when HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji went to its aid. Exhausted, the crew of Gloucester set off to aid Greyhound despite their anti-aircraft ammunition being low. Bombers attacked both vessels until Gloucester ran out of ammunition and took several direct hits.

HMS Gloucester listed to port and lay burning in the water. It went under after 1715hrs with the loss of Commander Captin Rowley, 45 Officers, and 648 crew. Some survivors of the sinking clung to rafts and wreckage for 24 hours before German boats picked them up. These vessels were searching for their own men, victims of an earlier Royal Navy attack. There were several Allied Destroyers in the area but none came to Gloucester’s aid.

John Harris has no known grave. His name is on Panel 54, Column 1 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Plymouth, Devon.